Free lesson plan, writing template and printable word-search puzzles for kids
Best suited to:
Years 3 – 6
English, history, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Histories and Cultures, PDH (empathy);
- what is The Stolen Generation?
- for around 60 years during the 20th century, it was government policy to remove Indigenous children from their parents and make them live in institutions run by white people;
- how Indigenous children lived with their families before they were stolen;
- what life was like for the stolen children and how they felt;
- how the removal of the children affected them and their families;
Need to know:
- this is a fictionalised account of the Stolen Generation told in the third person from the point of view of a young girl;
- tells the story of an Aboriginal girl taken from her family and sent to a children’s home and her experiences there;
- provides insight into the life of a child who has been displaced and forced to grow up in an environment devoid of love, family, culture, compassion and everything that is familiar;
- the story is written in a combination of past and present tense, as the girl looks back on her life before she was taken to live in the home;
- the book ends with a sense of hope as the girl makes plans to leave and takes her first steps towards home;
- both the authors’ have Indigenous grandmothers who were stolen from their families;
- helps develop children’s perspective-taking skills and empathy as they imagine themselves experiencing what the girl experiences;
- a brief account of the story of the Stolen Generation appears on the first page of the book;
Discussion Questions (before reading):
- discuss the cover and title: what do you see? What do you think the book will be about? Does the title – Stolen Girl – make you think of anything?
- ask children what they see in the cover illustration. Does this give any clues as to where the story might be set? How old do you think the girl is? How do you think she might be feelings (from her body language)? Who do you think she is?
- activate prior knowledge by asking the children what/whether they know about the Stolen Generation;
- read the first page of the book titled: About the Stolen Generation;
- what is meant by terms such as ‘full blood’, ‘assimilation’ and ‘integration’? Discuss the reasoning behind the government policy that led to the Stolen Generation. What was the Australian Government aiming to do? Why? Do you think that was a good idea? Why or why not?
- ask the children: have you ever been separated from your family? When/how/why did you become separated or lost? How did you feel? (brainstorm as a class and write the words on the classroom whiteboard);
Discussion Questions (after reading):
- compare the first two double-page spreads in the story. What do you see? How is the experience of eating breakfast different in the two illustrations? Discuss how these two illustrations symbolise very simply the differences between being with family and being at the children’s home;
- show the children the page which begins: ‘Her mother took her to the river every day … ‘ and read these two pages again. The girl’s mother teaches her some essential life skills. What are these skills? Ask the children: what important life skills have your parents taught you?
- discuss the importance of the relationship between parents and their children. Parents care for the physical needs of their children but what else do they do?
- ask the children: have you ever listened to your parents or grandparents telling stories from the ‘old days’? How important are these stories to your identity (your sense of who you are)? Discuss the concepts of ancestry and identity;
- discuss the ways in which the girl’s identity is taken away when she goes to the children’s home (her clothes are replaced, she’s given a new name, she gets into trouble for using her own language). How do these things make her feel? How might you feel if the same thing happened to you? Why do you think the people who run the children’s home do this? What are they trying to do to the children?
- we never learn the girl’s name. Why do you think this is? (to reinforce the fact that she has had her identity stolen?)
- what does the girl do to try to hold onto her Indigenous culture and to remember her mother? (whispers her own name, sings);
- children write and/or draw a response to the story;
- children complete a wordsearch using vocabulary from the story;
- children use the vocabulary in the wordsearch to write sentences about what happened in the story;
- using the illustrations in the book as inspiration, children draw a picture to illustrate one of their favourite things they do with their families. They write a journal piece to accompany their pictures;
- using the pages which describe the girl’s life with her mother and the class discussion about the life skills parents teach as inspiration, children write about a skill or skills a parent has taught them. They may choose to write in the present tense or in the past tense;
Children research the Stolen Generation.
When did it occur?
Who did it affect?
Why did it happen?
What effects did this have on the children who were taken from their families and on the parents whose children were taken from them?
How are these effects still being felt today?
What does inter-generational trauma mean? Explain how this applies to the Stolen Generation and their descendants.
Watch Kevin Rudd’s apology speech. Why was the Prime Minister’s apology an important step towards reconciliation?
Your free, printable word-search puzzles and writing template
These free, printable word-search puzzles for kids are great for building and reinforcing the vocabulary used when discussing Stolen Girl. They’re especially helpful for EAL/D students.
There are three different puzzles in this file to enable you to differentiate the activity according to the learning needs of your students.
Download and print our free writing template for use with the picture book Stolen Girl here (PDF).